New MCLE rule changes effective September 27, 2011
The Illinois Supreme Court has changed the MCLE rules that apply to all attorneys. The rule changes include: the elimination of the $20 fee to claim MCLE credits for “non-traditional” courses or activities; carrying over professional responsibility credits between reporting periods; and more flexibility for newly admitted attorneys to obtain basic skills requirements. Under the new rules, attorneys admitted after October 1, 2011, will be permitted to participate in a mentoring program approved by the Commission on Professionalism. Additionally, Supreme Court Rules 791,792,793,794,795,796 and 799 have been amended. The following summarizes the significant changes to the Rules.
Amended Rule 793: Requirements for Newly-Admitted Attorneys
Under Rule 793(a), unless excepted, every Illinois attorney admitted to practice on or after October 1, 2011, must complete the requirements for newly-admitted attorneys described in Rule 793(c). Under Rule 793(b), the requirements must be completed by the last day of the month that occurs one year after the newly-admitted attorney’s admission to practice in Illinois.
The requirements, under Rule 793(c), include:
1. Completion of a basic skills course of no less than six hours covering topics such as practice techniques and procedures under the Illinois Rules of Professional Conduct, client communications, use of trust accounts, attorneys’ other obligations under the Court’s Rules, required record keeping, or professional responsibility topics (which may include professionalism, diversity issues, mental illness and addiction issues and civility) or participating in a mentoring program approved by the Commission on Professionalism pursuant to Rule 795(d)(12);
2. Completion of at least nine additional hours of MCLE credit (may include any number of hours approved for professional responsibility credit); and
3. Reporting to the MCLE Board as required by Rule 796.
The newly-admitted requirements do not apply to attorneys who are admitted to the Illinois bar before October 1, 2011 and who practiced in another state for a period of one year or more. Further, attorneys who were admitted to the Illinois bar on October 1, 2011 and thereafter do not have to comply with Rule 793(c) requirements, if the attorney was admitted in Illinois on October 1, 2011 after practicing law in another state for a period of at least one year in the three years immediately preceding admission in Illinois. Those attorneys much complete 15 MCLE credit hours (including four hours of professional responsibility) within one year of the attorney’s admission to practice in Illinois, which shall be reported to the MCLE Board pursuant Rule 796.
Attorneys admitted after December 31, 2005 and before October 1, 2011, have the option of completing a Basic Skills Course totaling at least 15 actual hours of instruction under the prior Rule 793(c) or satisfying the current requirements for Rule 793(c).
Amended Rule 794: Continuing Legal Education Requirement
Under Rule 794(c), for attorneys who have two year reporting periods, all CLE hours may be earned in one year or split in any manner between the two-year reporting period. If an attorney earns more than the required CLE hours in the two-year reporting periods of July 1, 2006 through June 30, 2008, or July 1, 2007 through June 30, 2009, the attorney may carry over a maximum of 10 hours earned during that period to the next reporting period, except for the professional responsibility credits. If an attorney earns more than the required CLE hours in the two-year reporting periods of July 1, 2008 through June 30, 2010 or July 1, 2009 through June 30, 2011, and all reporting periods thereafter, they may carry over a maximum of 10 hours to the next reporting period, including professional responsibility credit. Professional responsibility credit that is carried over to the next reporting period may be used to meet that requirement for the next reporting period.
Newly-admitted attorneys, subject to Rule 793, who have been admitted to practice in Illinois on January 26, 2006 through June 30, 2009, may carry over to their first two year reporting period a maximum of 10 CLE hours (except for professional responsibility credit) earned after completing the newly-admitted attorney requirement. Newly-admitted attorneys, subject to Rule 793, who have been admitted to practice in Illinois on July 1, 2009 and thereafter may carry over to their first two-year reporting period a maximum of 15 CLE hours that are earned in excess of those required by Rule 793(c) or Rule 793(f)(2), if those excess hours were earned after the attorney’s admission to the Illinois bar and before the start of the attorney’s first two year reporting period. Those carry over hours may include up to six hours approved for professional responsibility credit. Professional responsibility credit carried over to the next reporting period may be used to meet that requirement of the next reporting period.
Amended Rule 796: Enforcement of MCLE Requirements
Under the reporting compliance section of Rule 796(a), on or before the first day of the month preceding the end of a newly-admitted attorney’s requirement reporting period or two year reporting period, the Director shall mail the attorney at a mailing address maintained by the ARDC a certification to be completed by the attorney. Attorneys who fail to submit an MCLE certification, under Rule 796(b), that is received by the MCLE Board within 45 days after the end of their reporting period, or who file a certification that is received by the MCLE Board within 45 days after the end of their reporting period stating they have not complied with these Rules during the reporting period, shall be mailed a notice by the Director to inform them of the noncompliance. Attorneys who are not fully exempt under Rule 791(a)(1), (2), (3), or (5), and who fail to complete, sign, and submit to the Board an MCLE certification that is received by the Board within 45 days after the end of their reporting period, and who are sent a notice of noncompliance who pay a late fee, under Rule 796(d), in an amount that is set by the Board. Failure to comply or failure to report will result in the removal of the attorney from the master roll of attorneys.
All lawyers licensed in Illinois should keep abreast of the MCLE rules, plan ahead, and be sure to register on time. ■